Cyber Monday Keeps Amazon Fulfillment Centers Busy as Workers Stage Walkout at One Site

NBC Universal, Inc.

As shoppers seek out the best deals on Cyber Monday, Amazon fulfillment centers across the Chicago area are busy fulfilling orders across the Midwest.

One facility, a 3.8 million square foot building in south suburban Matteson, is filled by robotic moving shelves that store small items and bring them to Amazon workers on the periphery to be sorted. 

"Today we are probably going to move through here close to 500,000 units…which will be a building volume record for us," said LaMonte Heyward, general manager of the Matteson facility.

As the busy shopping day began, workers at an Amazon warehouse in Joliet staged a brief walkout that began in the early morning. During the first walkout, in October, the Chicago Sun-Times reported that hundreds of workers signed a petition demanding better health and safety polices, as well as a base pay of $25 per hour.

According to the workers, management at Amazon is aware of what they're asking for. However, as of Monday morning, they have yet to hear back about their demands.

"We feel we are getting all this work, and we are not even being paid a fair wage," stated Montrell Oliver, one Amazon worker.

Many of the workers at Amazon facilities earn $18.50 an hour, more than six dollars above Illinois' minimum wage.

The general manager of the Matteson center says he has had no problem hiring new employees and has added more than 640 workers in the past couple of months.

"We haven't had any constrains with hiring this year," Heyward said.

Amazon released the following statement to NBC 5 about the walkout:

“Despite a small demonstration initiated by outside groups, the overwhelming majority of our team members at our facility in Joliet, IL continued to do what they do every day, deliver for our customers. While we’re always listening and looking at ways to improve, we remain proud of the competitive pay, comprehensive benefits, and safe work experience we provide," said Kelly Nantel, Amazon spokesperson.

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